June 25, 2007

Ireland

Bray highlights issues facing Associate players

Martin Williamson
Jeremy Bray departs for 41, West Indies v Ireland, Group D, Kingston, March 23, 2007
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Jeremy Bray, Ireland's opening batsman, has branded the Irish Cricket Union's efforts at turning the game professional 'a joke'. Bray opted out of Ireland's weekend ODIs against India and South Africa, having also been unavailable for a large part of the Friends Provident campaign, because of family commitments and admits his future is in doubt.

"I was a bit tired and needed a rest", he told the Sunday Tribune, "at least that was the initial plan. But it's hard to get to training because I live so far away. My wife has her own hair salon business so organising childcare has become a big issue. The reality is that it costs me money to play for Ireland."

Since Ireland returned from the World Cup there has been much talk of Ireland turning professional and negotiations are well advanced, but Bray isn't impressed. "It's just a joke", he said, "But I'm not surprised - that's the Irish Cricket Union for you."

Bray has spoken to Ireland captain Trent Johnston about the situation but is still uncertain about the future. "I hope it doesn't get to me giving it all up, but we need to get it all out in the open and see what's on offer."

Warren Deutrom, the ICU chief executive, who has been a driving force being the quest for a professional set-up responded to Bray's comments and said the delay isn't because of a lack of effort.

"The fundamental issue is that we can't complete and finalise the contracts for the players until we know we are able to satisfy what they are requesting in terms of additional monies," he said. "We can't do that until we know how much of a budget we have, and we won't know that until this current series of games is completed. It's a vicious circle.

"Do we want to be able to pay the players? Absolutely, of course we do, and it's the fundamental route to success. I know there's a significant degree of frustration among the players, and I completely understand that. We have met with the players on a number of occasions, and will continue to do so.

"We've managed to get many of their issues and concerns out into the open. A lot of the players are prepared to be patient until they know of the final financial result. Obviously we're trying to do our very best."

Johnston has also been vocal in his call for a professional structure in Ireland. Following the match against India on Saturday he said: "We've got to have professional contracts put in place so players can get back to the standard we set in the West Indies. Four months we were away playing cricket and you could see in our performance over there we were a much better team."

Martin Williamson is executive editor of ESPNcricinfo and managing editor of ESPN Digital Media in Europe, the Middle East and Africa

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Posted by Doug Cowe on (July 13, 2007, 6:26 GMT)

There's nothing wrong with semi professional system. The irish players can still have full time jobs beside their cricket commitments. As a matter of fact I think semi professional is the way to go for cricket.

Posted by Sobu on (June 29, 2007, 11:02 GMT)

What can a board do when it does not have future guarantee. The ICU does not have enough monies and how can they when the people are not coming out to support. In countries like India and Pakistan the cricketers could not have been so highly paid and praised if the supporters had not turned out in every game over the years.

Posted by Chadders on (June 27, 2007, 9:43 GMT)

I've made my views known on the best way for ICU to access greater TV money: merge with England & Wales and Scotland into a British & Irish team. But even I doubt that will happen.

But certainly, this is the complain the Scottish players are making too. I'm sure if we could at least make Ireland & Scotland full counties, get them into the Twenty20 setup and get a few decent gate receipts in, then that could go some way to alleviating the issue of being lured into playing for England.

However, this is a problem even for New Zealand, with one of their players finding it more lucrative/secure to play for Gloucs than for NZ. The only way to break the vicious circle would be to get another Sir Paul Getty or corporate white knight to make a bridging deal for 2-3 years and then allow Ireland & Scotland the chance to perform, get regular TV deals, maybe even play unofficial tests and then repay later, hoping these guys can be the relative success they were at the world cup.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Martin Williamson
Executive editor Martin Williamson joined the Wisden website in its planning stages in 2001 after failing to make his millions in the internet boom when managing editor of Sportal. Before that he was in charge of Sky Sports Online and helped launch and run Sky News Online. With a preference for all things old (except his wife and children), he has recently confounded colleagues by displaying an uncharacteristic fondness for Twenty20 cricket. His enthusiasm for the game is sadly not matched by his ability, but he remains convinced that he might be a late developer and perseveres in the hope of an England call-up with his middle-order batting and non-spinning offbreaks. He is now managing editor of ESPN EMEA Digital Group as well as his Cricinfo responsibilities.

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